There are so many fantastic easy hikes in Western Maine that it’s hard to choose the best ones! This list compiles some of our favorite trails and tips so you can enjoy the best of Western Maine with kids (or without!). We hope you enjoy these easy hiking trails!
1. Fire Warden’s Trail, Pleasant Mountain Preserve in Bridgton, Maine
Distance: 4.7 miles
Duration: Approximately 3 hours
Distance from Papoose Pond: 30-minute drive
The Fire Warden’s Trail, which ascends from the West, promises panoramic views with its open ledges. And here’s a delightful tidbit for families visiting in late June – the trail is dotted with blueberry patches, perfect for a fun berry-picking session!
Parking & Tips: There’s plenty of parking here, with additional spots available at the Fire Warden’s. And for those bringing along their furry companions, remember they’re welcome but must be on a leash.
2. Mount Sabattus Trail, Sabattus Mountain in Lovell, Maine
Distance: 1.5 miles
Duration: Approximately 1 hour
Distance from Papoose Pond: 20-minute drive
This loop trail near Center Lovell promises breathtaking views of the White Mountains and Mount Washington on clear days. It’s a moderately challenging route, so it might be best for families with a fair amount of hiking experience.
For easy navigation, take Route 5 North from US 302 to Center Lovell, then turn right onto Sabattus Mountain Road. The trailhead, marked with a brown hiker sign, will guide your way.
3. Rattlesnake Pool, White Mountain National Forest in Gilead, Maine
Distance: 2.1 miles
Duration: Approximately 1 hour
Distance from Papoose Pond: 40-minute drive
Rattlesnake Pool is a must-visit for families, with its mesmerizing waterfall cascading into an emerald green pool. Kids will love the sights and sounds of this trail, making it a memorable experience for all.
But here’s a heads-up: parts of this trail pass through private property. Let’s ensure we respect the space and stay on the path, ensuring future access for all.
4. Step Falls, Step Falls Preserve in Newry, Maine
Distance: 1.1 miles
Duration: Approximately 33 minutes
Distance from Papoose Pond: 35-minute drive
Often described as a natural water park, Step Falls Preserve is a haven for families. The trail leads to numerous shallow pools, perfect for wading or a refreshing swim. And for those visiting in summer, the natural waterslides are a hit with kids!
Parking: Managed by the Mahoosuc Land Trust, the parking area can get crowded on weekends. An early start is recommended to secure a spot.
5. Snowshoe Hare Trail, Pondicherry Park in Bridgton, Maine
Distance: 0.8 miles
Duration: Approximately 25 minutes
Distance from Papoose Pond: 25-minute drive
Ideal for the youngest of hikers, this flat, shaded trail near Bridgton is a treat. The path winds through the forest, leading to a classic New England-covered bridge over a babbling brook. It’s the perfect setting for a family picnic or a game of ‘I Spy.’
Here are our Favorite Tips for Hiking with Kids in Western Maine
- Start Small: Especially if it’s their first time, choose shorter and easier trails. As their stamina and interest grow, you can gradually introduce them to more challenging hikes.
- Pack Smart: Bring a kid-friendly backpack with essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, hats, and a first-aid kit.
- Plan Regular Breaks: Kids tire more quickly than adults. Schedule regular stops for rest, snacks, and hydration. These breaks also offer a chance to explore and appreciate the surroundings.
- Stay Safe: Teach kids basic hiking safety. This includes staying on the trail, not approaching wild animals, and understanding what to do if they get separated from the group.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that hiking with kids will be slower-paced. The focus should be on the journey and experience, not just reaching the destination.
- Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Kids might not always communicate when they’re thirsty or hungry. Regularly offer water and energy-boosting snacks to keep them fueled.
- Respect Nature: Instill a love and respect for nature in your kids. Teach them the principles of “Leave No Trace” – pack out what you pack in, don’t pick plants, and leave rocks and other natural objects as you found them.
Exploring the great outdoors with your family is a rewarding experience that creates lasting memories. The beauty of Western Maine’s trails is that they offer diverse landscapes and adventures suitable for all ages. And the best part? These fantastic hikes are just a stone’s throw away, conveniently located within an hour of Papoose Pond Family Campground and Cabins. So, after a day of wandering the trails, you can easily return to the familiar comforts of your campsite, reminisce about the day’s adventures, and rest up for another day of exploration.